Given the number of retailers that have shunned brick-and-mortar stores and are instead keeping their goods in warehouses, these buildings are cropping up everywhere in California. Adding in the growing stress to get orders out within a specific time frame and it is becoming even more physically and emotionally stressful with the spate of injuries to show for it.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration gives warnings about potential dangers warehouse workers face. In addition, there is greater scrutiny on the larger-scale retailers that are exerting harsh conditions on warehouse workers.
Being attentive about how to maintain safety is essential. For workers who have been hurt while working in a warehouse, it is important to be aware of how workers’ compensation benefits can help them.
OSHA gives guidance as to a safe warehouse for workers
Working in a warehouse requires completing various tasks. As part of the job, there are specific hazards workers will be confronted with and protective strategies employers should have in place.
Workers can suffer muscular injuries from lifting and pulling. They can tear muscles, experience joint damage, suffer damage from vibrations, have back injuries, break bones, have stress fractures and more. Employers can provide training in proper techniques, encourage maintenance and give workers frequent breaks.
Operating forklifts and other vehicles and machinery present certain dangers. People can be hit by these vehicles, there can be tip-overs and items that are being lifted could fall. Training is a must as is proper certification to use forklifts and other equipment. Electrical dangers, heat, robotics and automation – all could leave workers vulnerable. Making certain employees and supervisors are adequately trained and attentive can keep people safe.
Many injuries simply occur because people slip, trip or fall. The simple act of giving employees safety equipment, mitigating the possibility of injuries by adhering to basic requirements and training, and making sure all procedures are up to date can avoid many injuries and accidents. Since warehouses have people working at great heights and on loading docks, proper protection is essential.
While these and other strategies are obvious, OSHA and other safety entities are expressing concern over large companies like Amazon amid allegations that they ignore worker safety in their warehouses in the interest of speed and efficiency.
OSHA information says that in 2022, Amazon workers had nearly seven injuries for every 100 people on the job. These are substantially higher than other employers with warehouses. The full statistics will be released later in 2023. For 2021, Amazon had 1.5 times the rate of injuries than the average for the industry.
Anecdotal evidence from company workers who were hurt on the job shows the litany of injuries workers have suffered. One man suffered a herniated disc due to a conveyor belt malfunction. A woman tore ligaments from repetitive motion in packing cases of sparkling water.
California is one of three states that have passed laws that were designed to reduce the demands on Amazon workers by limiting its quotas. Still, the company is holding to its stance that it is invested in worker safety.
Injured warehouse workers may need help with maximizing benefits
These are examples of the type of damage that warehouse tasks can do to a worker. Warehouse workers are trying to support themselves and their families. When they are injured on the job, they will inevitably have questions about what the future holds. Medical care, lost wages, the need for equipment to help them get around, medication – all are part of the process after a workplace injury.
In many instances, the employer disputes the cause and extent of the injury. With that, those pursuing workers’ compensation benefits might face obstacles in getting approved and maximizing what they will receive. These cases are complex – especially for warehouse laborers – since many injuries are soft tissue and difficult to diagnose.